Riyadh – Ideological extremism exists in Saudi Arabia and should be treated, according to Sheikh Saleh Al-Sadlan, professor of law at Riyadh’s Imam Mohammad ibn Saud University and famous mufti.
He was commenting on the events at last month’s Book Fair in the Saudi capital where several individuals belonging to the Islamist camp attacked a number of lecturers and speakers because they considered them secular.
In an interview with Asharq al Awsat on Wednesday, Sheikh al Sadlan indicated that the current religious discourse included several negative points and was in need of re-examination and modification. He said that khateebs, who lead prayers in mosques, committed a number of errors in directing people and that, despite the presence of authorities specializing in training Friday khateebs, systematic follow up was lacking. But he indicated that the Ministry of Islamic Affairs is responsible for monitoring the content of Friday prayers and following up on the khateebs. To this effect, a special committee had been established called “the committee to monitor mosques”.
The Sheikh admitted that duplicity of religious discourse that is being practiced by various Islamic preachers is a reality. He stated that there is one lenient view expressed through the media and an extremist outlook that is published on internet websites and at gatherings.
Sheikh Al-Sadlan agreed with Saudi preacher Sheikh Abdullah Al-Manee, a prominent member of the Saudi Council of Senior Ulamaa (scholars) in the call for religious dialogue that incorporates all Saudi Islamic sects to be held under the supervision of Saudi leadership. However, Al-Sadlan adds that this endeavor should be carried out by a specialized authority that is concerned with this issue.